In our 24/7 world, the 9-to-5 mentality is obsolete. With the internet always open for business, shouldn’t you be, too? With chatbots, you will be.

Even five years ago, chatbots seemed ludicrous to most businesses. People willingly turning to bots and AI for solutions seemed straight out of Star Trek. Many companies believed consumers would reject automated customer services. After all, they loathe automated phone systems, so how could chatbots possibly win the public over?

Quite easily, it turns out. Consumers prize the faster solutions and efficiency that 24/7 bot-based customer service offers. Today, chatbots are revolutionizing business and now you’ve got two choices – join the revolution or get left behind. Here are seven reasons you should use chatbots.

1. Bots Never Sleep

On demand, around the clock, chatbots are an always-on solution. No matter where in the world your clients are, or what time zone they’re in, chatbots can be online, hitting home runs with easily-solved issues. Bots won’t miss work because the snow’s clogging the interstate or last night’s fish gave them food poisoning. They’ll be there for your customers, night and day. And that’s important, because today’s consumer has things to do, their lives are so demanding they often can’t do online shopping or problem-solving until late at night or early in the morning. Whenever it happens, studies show that they want answers in 10 minutes or less. So much so, in fact, that Hubspot reports 40% of consumers don’t care who solves their problems, a human or a bot, as long as the problem gets solved.

2. Bots Handle the Easy Stuff

Customer service is the front-line of your company and they’ve got a critical role: Make people happy. It’s a hard job already without constantly interrupting their productivity for questions like “How can I make a return?” For those easily-answered questions, your team’s expertise is wasted. Chatbots can intercede on simple stuff, providing immediate online help to customers by point them to appropriate web pages and giving explanations. Anyone with tougher issues to solve can be prioritized and expedited, enabling customer service pros to jump in.

And lest you think it’s not the simple stuff people need solved, Drift’s 2018 “State of the Chatbots” report found that 34% of respondents found corporate websites hard to navigate. A further 31% said they couldn’t get answers to simple questions. 28% said basic business details were hard to find. What do all of these have in common? A well-designed chatbot can provide answers and assistance for each. And that’s just the start of why chatbots work so well.

3. Bots Work in All the Places

Whether you’re looking for solutions on messaging systems, Twitter, or LinkedIn, maybe Facebook’s Messenger, or even on your website, there’s a bot for that. As customizable solutions, chatbots can easily be made platform-specific, ensuring they’re connecting with clients in the most appropriate manner for that site. From tone of voice to navigational needs, chatbots are never robotic unless you design them that way.

Consider the nifty app created by the Stanford School of Medicine called “Woebot.” It’s designed to help users achieve better mental health, proving that bots can have an infinitely empathetic voice, if it’s made that way. Accessibility, immediacy, site-appropriate response, and even empathy, these are all why 2017 saw 35% of consumers reach out to customer service through social platforms for help, up from 23% the year before and 17% in 2015 – that’s a 50% increase in frequency year over year. What percentage of your consumers will seek help through Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and beyond in 2019? Are you ready for them? At ICUC, we are.

4. Bots Are Brilliant in Messaging

Messaging chatbots are extremely successful. Email today is a losing venture, with two-thirds of them never even being opened, and 97.9% never getting even one click. Messaging, on the other hand, gets a whopping 80% of messages read and a 13% click rate. Why? Messaging is less likely to have spam and unsolicited contacts, so more communications get through. In fact, as of July 2017, messaging apps outpaced social media, boasting over 5 billion monthly users, with Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp battling for supremacy. As of autumn, 2018, Whatsapp has 1.5 billion monthly users worldwide, but Facebook dominates North America and the UK, with 1.3 billion regular users.

These two platforms alone carry over 22 trillion messages annually, and that number is growing monthly. Will you keep up to that pace without chatbots? Messaging bots are designed to wade through messages and communicate effectively, and rapidly, on behalf of your company. In so doing, they expedite cases for human intervention when needed, and resolve matters independently where possible.

But it’s not just the sheer volume of messages that’s important to note. It’s how much they’re replacing phone contact. Despite mobile devices often being designed as phones, mobile users employ messaging five times more frequently than they make voice calls. Plus, users between the ages of 13 and 24 spend eight times longer using messaging apps than they do email. And, no matter what the demographic, nine out of 10 consumers would rather message a business than speak to them!

5. Bots Generate Quality Leads

When chatbots engage with site visitors to find out what they’re seeking, bots can uncover who’s a potential customer and who isn’t. They can ask if the visitor wants to learn more, then turn over their info to the sales team. This leads to happier, more productive sales staffers, since they can engage someone who’s interested, rather than trying to convert unknowns through repetitive questions.

It’s not just service-based businesses who see success through bot-generated leads. Beauty retailer Sephora created a bot through messaging app Kik that gave skincare tips and tutorials, and they introduced a Facebook Messenger chatbot that helped clients do color-match with Sephora’s product catalogue. Results showed that bot-aided customers spent $50 more in-store on average than others.

6. Bots Will Improve Your Reputation

Search Twitter for terms containing “on hold” and you won’t scroll long to find customers badmouthing companies because they’ve wasted a half-hour, or even hours, sitting on hold to speak to a representative. Don’t underestimate the fury this creates. Forrester found that 66% of consumers say the most important thing a company can do is to value their time by providing speedy online service.

With bots available to handle customer concerns throughout social media, on messaging apps, and even on your website, you’re ensuring they are heard faster, and their needs get prioritized. When you employ a service like ICUC’s Bots + Brains human-aided bot program, you get the speed of bot intervention complemented by humans ready to take over when the bot has achieved all it can. The result is that you’ll be perceived as a company who listens to, and satisfies, their customers. Don’t ever forget that customers remember quality service much longer than they remember prices. To that end, 77% of customers say they’ll spread the word if they’ve experienced great service from you and 53% are likely to share tales of your great service on social media.

7. Bots Improve Customer Loyalty

2017 survey by American Express found that over half of consumers have scrapped a planned purchase at some point because of bad customer service. On the flipside, that same survey found 70% of consumers will spend more money if they know a company offers good service. Salesforce found that over 74% of consumers will switch brands if the purchasing experience is too complicated or frustrating. In these instances, bots can make the difference, since they’ll provide clarity and help while identifying instances that need human customer service intervention.

When your customers know that you’ve prioritized problem-solving, they’ll be more inclined to remain your customer, because you’ve set a standard of care they can rely on. You may not be able to attach a dollar-figure to that sentiment, but the Harvard Business Review says it’s between 5 and 25 times more expensive to find new customers than to satisfy existing ones, and that’s why loyalty is so critical for your ongoing success.

What Are You Waiting For?

Chatbots aren’t the future, they’re the present. They’re already dominating consumer services industries, but to a variety of results. To get the most out of chatbots, we can help. ICUC’s Bots + Brains optimizes chatbots for specific uses and platforms and we complement those bots with our brainy platform-expert humans located around the world, ready to jump in and make your customers happy.

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